This 47-Year-Old Woman Proves It's Never Too Late To Learn To Read And Fulfill Your Dreams

“I came a long way.”

A 2016 study from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy found that 14 percent of U.S. adults cannot read — the equivalent to 32 million people. One of these individuals, a 47-year-old woman named Wanda Steward, is doing something about it and is on a quest to ensure that she, and others like her, can become literate.

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Steward, who dropped out of school in the tenth grade, said in a new 60 Second Docs installment that not knowing how to read "really makes you feel embarrassed," and calls the time in her life when she was unable to read a "hard" and "tough" time. During all this time, Steward was unable to enjoy the many benefits of reading.

Knowing this, Steward is doing her part to help by volunteering time with Project Literacy, founded and convened by Pearson, so that she can help other adults who are illiterate. As Project Literacy notes, the problem stretches beyond the U.S., as more than 750 million people worldwide — the equivalent to 1 in 10 persons alive today — do not possess even basic reading and writing skills.

"People out there, they need you to get the help they need," Steward said. "I've been through what they've been through, but I'm proud of myself. I came a long way.

Not only is Steward helping others, but she actually realized one of her dreams and wrote a children's book. The Little Chicken Named Pong-Pong, putting a twist on the classic Chicken Little tale, even caught the attention of actor Idris Elba, who wrote a foreword to the book and filmed a bedtime story-like video reading it. Steward's book is available for a free download here.

"It's still not an easy journey for me because sometimes I need help, too," Steward said. "But I'm very excited to get the word out about adult literacy, to help adults move forward and learn as you go along. Just don't give up."

Watch Steward's full 60 Second Docs feature here:

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